The Best Cat Carrier for Difficult Cats

Tiger with mouth open showing teeth


The best cat carrier for difficult cats will almost always be a hard carrier.  Some people may disagree. Ultimately, it depends on what makes your cat difficult.  

Difficult may just mean your cat is prone to anxiety or fear.  This is completely normal as most cats don’t like leaving their territory, and they’re certainly not afraid of showing it.  

One of the reasons that hard carriers are better for difficult cats is that they’re more robust and are durable when under attack. Mesh or fabric carriers are easier to chew, claw and bite through. Don’t underestimate the ability of a cat to Harry Houdini it out of a soft carrier when given ample incentive or opportunity.  It’s why we only recommend soft carriers for cats who aren’t bothered about being carried from one place to another.

For the sake of simplicity, we’ve chosen only to list hard carriers in this post, but you may find it helpful to read our previous post about choosing between a hard or soft carrier.  

As an owner, it’s very possible that you have anxiety about traveling with your cat, too.  Hard carriers will help to put your mind at ease.  They look and feel stronger and are more solid and secure than a fabric or wire carrier is. You need to have faith in the product you’ve purchased. After all, it’s going to be carrying someone very important to you.

Cats can be very sensitive to the moods and emotions of their owner and so your perception of their ‘difficulty’ during travel may simply be their way of reacting to your fear.

Hard carriers are also far easier to clean in the event of any messy accidents en route.

Difficult can mean different things in different cats: anxious, skittish, nervous, distressed, afraid.  It can also mean aggressive, angry or terrified.

The best cat carrier for difficult cats is the one that’s durable enough to prevent injury and the one able to reduce the risk of escape.


A ginger cat with its head in its paws sitting on a cat tree


What to Look for in a Cat Carrier for Difficult Cats


Choose one with a metal rather than a plastic grill.  As we’ve mentioned already, a good quality hard carrier is both stronger and more durable. Metal grills are more robust than plastic and some come with additional lock-spring mechanisms.

The box should be 1.5 times the size of your animal.  Inside, your cat should be able to stand up, sit down and turn around easily.

Don’t be tempted to get a carrier that’s much bigger than your pet.  Cats generally feel safer in smaller spaces. Remember, too, that the more room there is inside a hard carrier, the more space the cat will have to slip and slide during transport.

A top-loading carrier is invaluable to owners of difficult cats. In some cases, veterinarians can treat an animal directly inside the box.  Getting your pet in and out is both easier and faster and saves the need to ‘tip’ the animal out as is often the case with front-loading boxes. Some top-loaders have additional screws or mechanisms for securing the top-half to the base to the bottom.  This can give added security and strength to the carrier especially if your cat has a tendency to go a little wild inside or if you’re cat is heavy.

There should be enough space, too, for familiar blankets and favourite toys. These should be items that the cat has rubbed its forehead again and has interacted with.  You can also spray synthetic pheromones inside the carrier to help reduce anxiety. If you’re particularly concerned, then you can either use medicine to calm your cat or speak to a veterinarian.

Read the reviews for each carrier.  Most on Amazon have photographs as well as lengthy descriptions of a verified owners experience of using the carrier.

Once you’ve purchased a box, then it’s important to introduce it to the cat as soon as possible.  If you can, put it somewhere in the house where the cat is able to explore it and (hopefully) climb inside without any drama. Normalising a carrier can help to reduce the stress of traveling and once it’s in the car it becomes a safe place for the cat to retreat inside until they get to the other side.

The Best Cat Carriers for Difficult Cats on Amazon


Petmate Two Door Top Load Dog Kennel – Assorted Colors

Its dimensions are 24 x 16.8 x 14.5 inches

This is one of the most popular carriers on Amazon with a rating of 89% 4 and 5* reviews.

It has a wide top-entry door making it easy to put in or take out your pet.  The top-door is steel. The front grill is secured with a durable wingnut and bolt mechanism.  

You can operate the lock mechanism one-handed making it ideal if there aren’t any extra hands around to help you.

There’s plenty of ventilation with the cat able to see out of all the sides of the carrier.

We’d recommend adding a cushion, towel or blanket to the base of this carrier as hard carriers can be slippery under-paw, causing a cat to slide around when the box moving.  

This carrier would be suitable for trips to the veterinarian and for both short and long distance car journeys.  It’s unlikely to be suitable for travelling on an aircraft, however. We’ve discussed the best cat carrier for airline travel in a previous post.  Additionally, we’d also recommend contacting your airline for their cat-carriage regulations.

What’s great, too, is that you can buy replacement parts on the PetMate website. This means that you don’t have to buy an entirely new carrier if the grill gets dinged up or if you lose one of the clips.

Petmate Sky Kennel

6 sizes are available to buy from 21” to 48”.

This is probably THE best cat carrier for difficult cats on this list if you have a cat that has tried to claw or bite its way out of a box in the past. This has been designed to be strong and secure enough to carry an animal in the hold of an aircraft.

It’s not quite Al-CAT-raz, but it does have a 4-way vault door to prevent sliding and shifting and its wire vents allow for a consistent circulation of air.

Made of robust plastic, this carrier uses non-corrodible wing-nuts and steel wire.

Visibility is good but this carrier isn’t as ‘open’ as some of the others, so it’s particularly useful for cats who prefer not to see what’s going on outside the carrier.  Ventilation is 360 degrees, however, so there’ll always be a good airflow.

Made from recyclable plastic, this cat carrier is an eco-friendly way to transport your cat.

It comes with clip-on bowls and all the stickers you’ll need to transport your cat in the hold of an aircraft.

Taking your cat by car? Then you can run the seatbelt under the handle knowing the cat is protected and secure.  Owners often worry about what would happen to their animal in the event of a road accident but in this kennel, they’re far better protected than they would be roaming loose.
Replacement parts are available to buy through the Petmate website


Amazon Basics 23-Inch Two-Door Top-Load Pet Kennel


The carrier comes in two sizes on of which measures 23x15x13 inches (LxWxH) and the other is smaller at 19x12x10 inches (LxWxH).

This is two-door, top-load carrier makes is one of our favourite cat carriers for difficult cats.  This method of easy-access through both the front and top makes putting in and taking out your pet easier.  You can also open the top door either to the left or to the right.

The front door is made of steel wire and has a spring-loaded latch mechanism.

The top of the carrier allows for one-handed carrying.

The top and bottom sections of the carrier snap together thanks to four latches but if your pet is a particularly astute escape artist, then you can use the included screws to reinforce the seal between the top and the bottom of the carrier.  

We own the larger version of this carrier.  Although, we didn’t purchase it through Amazon but from another store.  We were really happy with it and so does our little black cat. One thing we would say, however, is that the larger carrier was actually better for us to buy even though our cat isn’t very big.  She has plenty of room but it’s not too-roomy. We think the small would have been too cramped which, without having measured the dimensions (and the cat!), we wouldn’t have realised. Normally, she’s fine in small or medium boxes. When picking out your cat carrier our advice is always to measure before buying.

Equally, having read some of the negative reviews on Amazon about the strength of this product (far more are positive, to be fair), we’d say that we didn’t feel the top was weak as has been suggested.  We were very impressed by the sturdiness of the carrier.  Perhaps other people had much heavier cats than we do. Perhaps it was a bad consignment.  In any case, we feel completely confident putting out cat into this box.

SportPet Designs Foldable Travel Cat Carrier – Front Door Plastic Collapsible Carrier Collection

This has 90% 4 and 5* reviews on Amazon.

This carrier is more triangular than square, so it’s ideal for cats that are more comfortable in smaller spaces.  This box does come in two sizes, however, one of which is XL for larger cats. It also helps keep the cat balanced during carriage — the pet shouldn’t be sliding up and down as much as they might in a bigger box.

The door of the carrier opens wide allowing the cat to easily walk in and out without any fuss.  The ‘gate’ on this carrier closes smoothly and quickly, too.

The design is durable but lightweight, too.

If you don’t have much space in your home, then this carrier is perfect as it folds down when not in use.

You have the option to purchase this carrier with a comfy pet bed, too.

The carrier is made from impact resistant polypropylene whilst the door and latch are made from high strength premium polycarbonate.

There’s good ventilation all-round.  It would be easy enough to drape a towel or blanket over the top if the cat doesn’t like seeing outside of the box.

It’s easy to clean out.

This carrier isn’t suitable for animals traveling on aircraft.

It’s also not chew resistant but given that it’s made of hard-wearing plastic, it’s unlikely that a cat would be able to chew its way out too easily.  Possibly, there could be some damage if the cat is very agitated.

It will depend on what makes a cat ‘difficult’ as to whether this carrier is suitable for your animal. There is also one review on Amazon where a lady says it collapsed open and her cat ran away under an oncoming car.  There have been many, many more positive reviews but we felt that this was important to point out. You can read the reviews on Amazon here.

It can be daunting to shop for a carrier for a difficult cat.  We hope that we’ve given you some inspiration on what to look for and potentially an idea of what you might like to purchase. Understanding what your animal’s trigger points are will help frame your decision and guide you into making the best choice for your pet.

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